This will get someone a fatwa, that's for sure. Might as well be someone!
Braised meat is the best kind of cooked meat. Unless it's grilled, and then that's better. Unless it's chicken and then it's either roasted over a fire or deep fried. Then THAT's way better. Just to be perfectly clear.
The holiday funk is passing, and yesterday's sadness, while still in the back of my head, is just that...in the back, and not being able to do anything about it means to live my life as best I can, and now ~ the tree is up, the piano is dusted and bedeckled with our Italian-made nativity vignette. The haramfest for this evening's guests (My brother and his family) is braising away in the oven. And it smells like impending Christmassy eats in here.
Braised Boneless Pork Roast
The key to this roast is the rub:
First, pour a generous amount of toasted sesame oil over the roast with one hand, and using the other hand, rub Kosher salt and cracked peppercorn medley into the meat. Rub generous amounts of either herbes de Provence or Greek seasoning (easily obtained in the spice aisle). If you can't find either, use poultry seasoning, dried oregano and ground cinnamon, followed by sweet paprika. Let rest for a half hour, then sear, fat side down first in a roaster that has a tight-fitting lid. Sear meat on all sides, and add a cup of chicken stock to the pan, followed by 2 cups of spiced apple cider. Place sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage over the meat. Peel a Clementine, and eat the Clementine. Put the Clementine peel into the roaster. Cover roaster and remove from the stove top. Braise in a 350 degree oven for 2 and 1/2 hours. No peeking. Your patience will be rewarded, I promise.
Mashed Potatoes and Apple Cider/Pork Jus Gravy
7 whole Russets, peeled, washed and cubed. Place in cold, clean water that is one inch above the potatoes, and boil for 20-25 minutes til fork tender, but not disintegrating. Drain. In the same pot, melt one stick of butter, and between 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of milk, half and half or cream, and heat til steaming. Add potatoes and mash with a hand masher. Salt, pepper and a couple of dashes of nutmeg finishes this dish off nicely. Parsley is optional.
Apple Cider makes a delicious gravy.
After pouring off the liquids into a fat separator, I poured the jus through a strainer and thickened it with a cornstarch slurry, which is just a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch mixed in with enough apple cider to liquefy it. Pour into the bubbling jus and whisk until thickened.
Corn Maque Choux
1 12 oz package of frozen corn
6 slices of bacon, crumbled, with melted fat preserved.
1 finely diced onion or shallot
1 finely diced roasted red pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
salt, pepper, thyme.
1 cup light Cream
Salt and pepper
This is the first time I made this dish, and what a success it was, ladies!
Cut the bacon into small pieces, fry in a hot skillet until the fat is rendered, and the bacon is crispy. Add diced onions or shallots (you can also use leeks if you want) and saute in the fat.
When the onions are clear and starting to brown, sprinkle the flour over the bacon fat and onions, and whisk til it is mixed well. Add the cream and let the sauce thicken. Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. If the sauce is too thick, add some milk to thin it. When it bubbles, add the corn and sweet roasted red peppers. After about 3 minutes, or when the corn is heated through, add about a cup of your favorite shredded cheese. In this case I used a combination of cheddar and pepper jack.
Everyone absolutely loved this dish, so a hail and hearty hat tip to Guy Fieri for making it on his show.
Dessert was a home made Apple crisp:
5 golden delicious apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup cranberry jelly
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 stick of softened butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 packets of maple flavored or cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal
2 heaping tablespoons of self-rising flour
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/4 light brown sugar
In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup with the cranberry jelly. Toss with the diced apples and dried cranberries. In another bowl, cut the softened butter into the brown sugar, flour and oatmeal packets. Mix until crumbly but not coming together like a crust.
Take 2 spoonfuls of the mixture and stir into the apples and pour into a casserole or glass pie plate. Add the walnuts to the rest of the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle it over the apples. Bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or pour some egg nog over the loveliness.